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Aussie crowd support spurs me on
George Sotiropoulos
09:00 AEST Fri Dec 7 2012

George Sotiropoulos is an Australian mixed martial arts fighter who competes in the UFC's lightweight division. He was a contestant on 'The Ultimate Fighter' and a coach on 'Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes'.
George Sotiropoulos

There aren't many better feelings than returning home to Australia and setting foot inside a UFC Octagon. The crowd roars and sings songs and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It's impossible not to get caught up in the emotion of it all, and you have no choice but to rise to the occasion and use the support as motivation.

During my fights in Sydney at UFC 110 and UFC 127, the fans were incredible and so passionate and vocal. They were even singing that famous cricket song from the eighties, 'Come on Georgie, come on'. Aussies have a great sense of national pride and they support their sportsmen like no one else. They blew me away on both those occasions. While we had more cause for celebration at UFC 110 – where I defeated Joe Stevenson by unanimous decision – the fans remained strong and supportive even in defeat against Dennis Siver. Both times they were exceptional.

I'm fighting closer to my hometown on December 15, so I'm expecting even more support this time around against England's Ross Pearson. The Australian fans have always been on my side, of course, but they'll probably be even more eager to see me win this fight because it's coming off the back of 'The Ultimate Fighter – The Smashes'. They will have all watched the show, invested in the story lines and got behind their team, their fellow Aussies. Well, I'm the last person to fight on that team, so no doubt they will really be up for watching it and seeing me bring home the victory.

I've fought in Queensland several times in the past and it's actually where I made my professional debut back in 2004. I also won the Australian title there, which is another career highlight of mine. The place holds a lot of fond memories for me and it is the ideal setting for this particular UFC event. The area has hosted a lot of mixed martial arts events over the years and as a result there are a ton of fans around. It's a real hotbed for Australian mixed martial arts, so it's great that they've now got a UFC event to look forward to and really get behind.

From a fighter's point of view all these arenas look the same after a while. So long as it contains an Octagon, I'm good to go and try not to think too much about it. I'll hear the cheers and I'll hear the chants, and that should be enough to inspire me to grab this victory.

In all honesty, I don't feel any added pressure going into this fight. I don't feel pressure because I'm fighting in Australia and I don't feel pressure because I'm coming off two defeats. I'm in such a good place right now, none of that matters.

A win over Pearson will mark a great end to the show for me and my team and that's all I'm thinking about right now. I see myself having my arm raised at the end of this fight and I think I will win in impressive fashion. I've visualised this fight many times in my mind - I've seen the two of us standing and striking, I've seen us going to the ground and grappling. I've seen us go to a decision and I've seen me stopping him. No matter what happens, and no matter where it goes, I always picture myself with my arm raised at the end of the fight and the cheers of the Australian fans ringing in my ears.

Australia's George Sotiropoulos meets Ross Pearson in the main event on Saturday, December 15 at UFC on FX SOTIROPOUlOS vs. PEARSON, live from Queensland, Australia. Tickets available at Ticketek

Follow George on Twitter @georgesots


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